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REVIEW: Bishop Nehru is going up with ‘Elevators I & II’

Kaytranada + MF Doom co-produce eclectic project

Bishop Nehru is a name you can expect to hear a lot more of following the release of his new studio album, Elevators I & II, which might just be the New York native’s breakthrough performance. The 21-year-old rapper was first noticed in 2012 for his 8-bar freestyle over Mos Def’s “Mathematics,” and by the age of 16 released his debut mixtape, Nehruvia, featuring DJ Premier, Madlib, and many more.

albumcoverHe signed to Mass Appeal in 2014 and was said to have a project in the works featuring Nas as an executive producer, however it has yet to be seen what, if anything, will come from it. According to a recent interview with Billboard, he has been releasing music independently for the last three years, making this his sixth full-length album.

Co-produced by Kaytranada and MF Doom, Elevators I & II is a conceptual display of conscious hip-hop from a new generation rap artist.

The album opens up similar to a De La Soul record, with the introductory skit “Act I: Ascension,” which sets the mood with a genuine “elevator music” style beat. The whimsical instrumentals intensify as Bishop Nehru raps along with the sample.

“No Idea” gives listeners the first real glimpse at Bishop Nehru’s raw talent, as he spits fire on this horn-heavy, call-and-response style rap track.

He follows this in the traditional style of hip-hop storytellers with the narrative rap, “The Game of Life,” about harsh realities people face and how in life things are not always fair.

“Up, Up & Away,” introduces the only other guest appearance on the album, LION BABE, a New York-based duo consisting of singer-songwriter Jillian Hervey and instrumentalist/producer Lucas Goodman. Their unique ambient sounds meld perfectly with Kaytranada’s more experimental vibe.

He continues his conceptual theme with “Act II: Free Falling,” which marks a key pivot point in the album’s overall dynamic. “Taserz.” is a rhythmic mix of Afro-pop, jazz, and other sounds intricately weaved to make the beat, which he follows with “Again & Again,” another classic display of conscious hip-hop lyricism on this dynamic multi-tiered track.

“Potassium” has a chopped up beat that sounds as if it was concocted from a mix of classic movie soundtracks, making it feel like the final scene in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966).

Besides the metaphorically brilliant title, “Rollercoasting,” is a funky track that really ties the whole production together. The track, much like the title implies, is all about coasting through this “rollercoaster” ride we call life. The album comes to a close at the top floor with the track, “Rooftops,” an inspirational outro track about aiming high and following your dreams.

This album is simply poetic, both in its lyrics and in its overall sound. It further blurs the lines leaving it up to the listener’s perception to determine whether they classify it as “underground,” because it’s heavily rooted in conscious hip-hop, or “mainstream” because of its eclectic hybridization of sounds. Either way, it’s worth a listen.

RATING: 5 / 5

STREAM: BISHOP NEHRU – ‘ELEVATORS I & II’

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